Distinguished Speaker Seminar – Professor Jeff Dahn

Date: February 28, 2020 Time: 1:00 pm Location: CHBE Room 102

Who is William Reed? Basic Science with No Foreseeable Application Done at UBC in 1965 Helping to Shape The Modern Lithium-Ion Battery


Stan Whittingham is one of the 2019 Nobel Laureates honored for his role in helping to develop the lithium-ion battery. Whittingham’s work in the late 1970’s preceded (by a few years) impressive work done by Prof. Rudi Haering and collaborators at UBC which led to the formation of Moli Energy Ltd in 1977, the world’s first producer of rechargeable lithium batteries. Since that time, the lithium-ion battery has become amazing and ubiquitous. It has enabled revolutions in communications, transportation and energy storage. Now it is critical to develop lower cost, longer lifetime lithium-ion batteries so that electric vehicles can be more affordable. Here, I will show for the first time how little known work by William Reed and collaborators in the Chemistry Dept. at UBC could possibly enable cost reductions and lifetime improvements in lithium-ion batteries. This is yet another example of the importance of funding basic science research which may, decades later, turn out to have an important, unforeseen, practical application. This story will follow the path from Whittingham, to Haering, to the “million mile” lithium-ion battery, and finally to William Reed’s contribution and its importance.


  Jeff Dahn obtained his B.Sc. from Dalhousie University (1978) and his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in 1982. Dahn then worked at the NRC (Canada) (82-85) and at Moli Energy (85-90) before taking up a faculty position at Simon Fraser University in 1990. He returned to Dalhousie in 1996. At Moli, he did pioneering work on lithium-ion batteries. Dahn was appointed as the NSERC/3M Canada Industrial Research Chair in Materials for Advanced Batteries at Dalhousie University in 1996, a position that he held until 2016. In 2016, Dahn began a research partnership with Tesla as the NSERC/Tesla Canada Industrial Research Chair. Dahn’s research has been recognized by numerous awards including a Governor General’s Innovation Award (2016) and the Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal in Science and Engineering (2017), Canada’s top science prize. He is the only person to have been awarded both awards this far.